NFL draft: Chicago Tribune: Rating the defensive tackles
By Dan Pompei
This is an opportune year to need a defensive tackle. There are two tackles worthy of being chosen in the top overall three picks, and there is good depth throughout the draft.
1. Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma, 6-4, 295: McCoy is capable of rushing the passer and making plays, or disrupting a pass protection scheme so others around him can make plays. He gets upfield and penetrates extremely well. He would be a perfect fit in a Lovie Smith-style defense but he is athletic and versatile enough to play in any scheme. McCoy's quickness is his best attribute, and he also has a non-stop motor. McCoy finds the football well and knows how to get through blockers to get to it. He also is an explosive hitter. His intangibles are considered excellent.
2. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, 6-4, 307: A big, powerful DT, he has all the measurables and should be a quick contributor. Suh is not a great pass rusher, but he can push the pocket and he plays hard. Suh has the athleticism to redirect his body. He anchors well and will bolster the run defense. He would be an ideal nose tackle in a 3-4 or a 4-3. He could improve his hand use and pad level.
3. Dan Williams, Tennessee, 6-2, 327: Williams is a huge player who can stop the run on first and second down. He doesn't offer much as a pass rusher other than a bull rush, however. He has a massive lower body and uses it well at the point of attack. As big and strong as he is, Williams also can move and makes hustle plays on the perimeter. In the past he has had a hard time controlling his weight. His stock really rose during the 2009 season.
4. Jared Odrick, Penn State, 6-5, 304: He could fit as a three technique for a 4-3 team, or as a defensive end for a 3-4 front. Odrick has a big, long frame and he plays with effort and toughness. He has a powerful swat and swim move. His initial quickness is good. Though he was a three year starter and a very valuable player at Penn State, he did not make a ton of plays and is not as athletic as some linemen. He is not a special rusher, but he powers through blocks. Odrick is a pretty safe pick, though he probably won't be a superstar.
5. Brian Price, UCLA, 6-1, 303: Price would fit a one-gap scheme because of his ability to shoot gaps and get upfield. He has a very quick first step, is explosive and can be difficult to block. Price is a tad on the short side, but his size helps him play with a low center of gravity. Price was very productive in college but somewhat inconsistent and appeared to wear down in games. He is a little stiff in terms of change of direction.
6. Tyson Alualu, Cal, 6-2, 295: With quickness, athleticism, consistency, intangibles and production, Alualu is a safe pick. He can be a three technique in a four-man front or a defensive end in a 3-4. As a pass rusher, he relies mostly on power. He defends the run well and plays with functional strength. His intensity is contagious.
7. Terrence Cody, Alabama, 6-3, 349: His potential is enormous. But so is he. If Cody can control his weight, he can be a dominator. He showed up at the Senior Bowl weighing 370 and looking mighty sloppy. He got down to 354 for the combine and 349 for his pro day. The good news is he is not lazy. Cody is a very powerful nose tackle who plugs up the middle of a defense — but that's all he does. He won't help much on passing downs. He is not very quick or explosive, but he is very difficult to block and can handle double teams.
8. Lamarr Houston, Texas, 6-3, 305: He is a disruptive, quick tackle who can pass rush. A star running back in high school, Houston has burst, suddenness and agility. He has a great motor and makes plays all across the line. Houston also knows how to play with leverage. He has short arms and might not be a fit for every scheme. He has helped himself with solid workouts.
9. Linval Joseph, East Carolina, 6-4, 328: This junior eligible's stock has been rising thanks to a fine combine workout. Scouts believe he has more potential than his game tape suggests. He has unusual quickness and athleticism for his size. Joseph also has the versatility to play different positions in different schemes. His length should help him as a pass rusher. He is raw, however, and could take time to acclimate to the NFL and learn proper techniques. He didn't play as well as he tested, and he gets blocked too much.
10. Mike Neal, Purdue, 6-3, 294: He has size, power and athleticism, and has shown it in workouts. But he didn't play as well as he tested. Neal has first-round talent, but was very inconsistent on the field. Neal's technique needs refinement, as he often tried to rely on his strength to defeat blockers and make plays. Scouts question his instincts. He has a great first step but doesn't always know what to do after he uses it. Neal would make a solid three technique if he can improve on the finer points.
11. Torell Troup, Central Florida, 6-3 314: He is a determined, consistent player who works hard and gets the job done. Troup has size and strength and is a force against the run. He has the mindset to be a nose tackle. He doesn't offer much as a pass rusher. His athleticism and burst are average. You know what you are getting with Troup.
12. Arthur Jones, Syracuse, 6-3, 301: He has the size and strength to play nose tackle and help a run defense. Jones is an active player who makes effort plays. He knows how to use his hands to get off blocks. Jones played better as a junior, but playing injured as a senior hurt his stock. Injury issues could cloud his future.
13. D'Anthony Smith, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 304: He is an appealing prospect for a one gap scheme because of his athleticism and quickness, but he lacks elite traits. Smith opened some eyes with a solid performance at the Senior Bowl. He sometimes struggles when big, powerful blockers latch on to him. Smith needs to learn more techniques to rush the passer. He might take awhile to hit his stride, but he has potential to be a decent NFL player.
14. Al Woods, Louisiana State, 6-3, 309: A highly recruited player out of high school, Woods has size and strength but does not change directions very well. Woods is stout at the point of attack, and he can be very violent with his hands. He does not always find the ball as well as you would like. He could be considered as an end in a 3-4 defense or a nose tackle in a 4-3.
15. Geno Atkins, Georgia, 6-1, 293: Atkins has had solid workouts and his measurables are intriguing. His play wasn't quite as enticing, however. His best production was as a sophomore. He does show some quickness and explosion, and plays bigger than his size. He is a fit in a one gap scheme, and does not fit a three-man front. Scouts question if he is assertive enough on the field.
16. Corey Peters, Kentucky, 6-3, 300: He has the athleticism and quickness to play three technique, but also could be a defensive end in a three-man front. Peters also has some juice as a pass rusher. He can put on weight and add strength, and must to bolster his run defense. Peters was a four-year starter who always answered the bell.
17. Cam Thomas, North Carolina, 6-4, 330: This is a huge run stuffer who probably is only a two-down player. Thomas is a little stiff athletically, but he is difficult to move. He didn't have a lot of production n college but opened eyes with a strong Senior Bowl. He has come on late and could have a future as a nose tackle.
18. Earl Mitchell, Arizona, 6-2, 296: A former fullback and tight end, Mitchell uses his athleticism in his pass rush to penetrate and shoot upfield. He has quick feet and sudden movements. He had a fine combine, but his game tapes are not as impressive as his workout was. He is a little undersized and gets engulfed by big blockers at times. He probably can be a third tackle for a team that plays a four man front.
19. Jeff Owens, Georgia, 6-1, 304: A shorter nose tackle prospect with a wide body, Owens holds up at the point pretty well. He gets low and does not give ground. He also has decent range for his size. His athleticism and quickness are limited, but he is pretty consistent. He missed most of the 2008 season with a knee injury.
20. Doug Worthington, Ohio State, 6-5, 292: Worthington's best fit might be as a defensive end in a three-man front, but he also has potential as a tackle in a 4-3. Worthington plays with top effort and has play strength. He is slow, however. An impressive pro day workout has helped his stock.
21. Vince Oghobaase, Duke, 6-5, 303: A four-year starter, Oghobaase has been a productive college player. He has decent size but is not a top athlete. He was not very impressive at the combine. Oghobaase tends to play high and narrow. He has had some knee issues.
22. Travis Ivey, Maryland, 6-4, 341: This huge prospect is athletic for his size. He can move his feet. Ivey is a power player who can hold up at the point. He was not invited to the combine. Some scouts question his effort level.
23. Sean Lissemore, William & Mary, 6-3, 297: A hustler who makes effort plays, Lissemore could find a spot as a third or fourth tackle in a rotation. He has good intangibles. He impressed scouts with his pro day workout, and might have more athleticism than he was being given credit for.
24. Nate Collins, Virginia, 6-2, 290: Collins was a productive college player but doesn't show ideal size and quickness for the pro game. He came on strong as a senior and has drawn attention lately. Scouts like his hustle. In high school he played a multitude of positions, including tight end, wide receiver, running back and even quarterback.
25. Malcolm Sheppard, Arkansas, 6-2, 285: Because of his lack of bulk, the only position for Sheppard is a three technique in a four-man front. He can shoot the gap and make plays. His quickness is pretty good, and he tries hard.
26. Andre Neblett, Temple, 6-0, 295: His lack of size limits him, but he can be a one-gap tackle. Neblett has the ability to get off the snap quickly and penetrate. He helped himself at the Texas versus the Nation game.